Open Gardens Committee Reports

2020-2021 — Marilyn Zaret, Moderator

f there ever was a challenge to the Open Gardens Program, it was the summer of 2020. While our Club’s programs and meetings continued through Zoom technology, it looked like doom for our special garden parties.


However, this challenge was met in mid-July when Florence Leyssène offered her garden to reunite our members. Masked guests poured in and stayed for hours to admire this botanical paradise, and to look over the photos of her thirty year process.


October was my chance to embrace a Halloween theme in my own garden featuring costumed mannequins. We even invited families to join us from nearby Anderson Park. With an Opener and Closer, the summer of 2020 was a memorable one.


Travel bans continued in 2021 and attendance increased as many newcomers joined the faithful regulars. In early May, Brigitte Padberg opened her garden to share her personal monument of multiple terraces and paths composed of the rocks she rearranged on her steep hill 30 years ago. Lucky climbers were treated to a Manhattan skyline view.


Tova Narrett hosted her third party in four years with a Victorian venue of white blossoms while her daffodil field went dormant. In June we entered through a white picket fence to the fairy tale scene of Deborah Hirsch’s 1870 Gothic Carpenter home. With the help of Cynthia Corhan-Aiken, this cottage garden was transformed into a year round charmer and had over 60 delighted guests.


This program has survived and thrived during this past year with its 20th Open Garden event and exceptionally high attendance as the pandemic winds down. I am overwhelmed by success and grateful to the hosts and the hundreds of exceptional people who came together during the challenges of 2020 and 2021.

2019-2020 — Marilyn Zaret, Moderator

Open Gardens, an idea born from the pleas of our Membership to see the magic behind our fellow gardeners' workshops, celebrated its second successful year with eight beautiful venues open during the
warm months.


Open Gardens provides a platform of creativity by and for our members. All are encouraged to share their personal spaces and vision. Yet it seemed natural to branch out and include our neighbors, families, and friends. Gardens of all sizes and styles were showcased to crowds that ranged from 20 to 50 per event, likely reaching hundreds of exuberant guests through the season.


Several gracious hosts found the experience so gratifying that half of those from the previous year signed up for an encore. In fact, some were invited to participate in the 2019 Van Vleck "Roses to Rock
Gardens" tour which made the experience even more precious to our Club to have first dibs.


As moderator, I've opened my own garden and will do so again. I have found the greatest joy in the Club's response to this simple idea, particularly with the gracious hosts whom I regard as my revolving
committee: Tova Narrett, Nancy Stroud, Maureen Sprong, Cynthia Corhan-Aitken, Barbara Meyer, Denise Silverman, Karen and Larry Whitehaus, Victoria Herrera, Stacie Gray, Sarah Olson, and Bob Chapman, who met Florence Sinofsky at his own Open Garden event, only to co-host again, his new wife at his side.